On the first day of the trial between Epic Game and Apple, Tim Sweeney released some statements in support of his thesis against the App Store and its alleged monopoly.
Fortnite as a social medium
Tim Sweeney started with a metaphor, defining Fortnite as the metaverse of Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash novel: “It is a real-time, computer-powered 3D entertainment and social medium in which real people participate in a 3D simulation together and have experiences of all kinds.Sweeney explained in a courtroom divided by plastic barriers and a series of teleconferencing telephone lines.
The CEO of Epic was chosen by the legal team of the software house as the first witness to bring to the bench, in order to express all the arguments against Apple. During the long testimony lasted a few hours, Sweeney talked among other things about the Unreal Engine, the game consoles, the App Store and what players do on the island during the events organized by Fortnite: “This is a phenomenon that transcends games and now Apple is unfairly demanding a reduction in the profits generated by Fortnite“.
While Sweeney called Epic’s fight against Apple as one “show of fireworks“, Yesterday’s session was not so spectacular. Sweeney is a generally calm man who delivered a testimony barely audible from the courtroom coffers.
The reason for the lawsuit against Apple
More generally, his testimony followed the lines drawn by Epic Games months ago. “The developers found themselves trapped in a trap created by Apple and the most common flower in the walled garden was the Venus Flytrap “. Apple retorted by defining the cause of Epic “a fundamental assault on Apple’s secure and integrated ecosystem. We went this route because we wanted the world to see how Apple has total control over the availability of all software on iOS. I admit we didn’t expect a removal of the game from the App Store, but we hoped that Apple could reconsider its policies ”.
It’s still: “Epic initially did not have a critical view of Apple’s policies. It took a long time for me to realize all the negative impacts of App Store politics. Regarding a bundle that Apple and Epic would talk about, Sweeney was clear: “We hadn’t asked for a special one, but for an agreement with Apple to offer a particular bundle to our players“.
During the interrogation control, Apple’s attorney prompted Sweeney to confirm that Epic spent nearly a decade playing by Apple’s rules before launching an operation codenamed “Project Liberty” for the sole purpose of mocking and boycotting them. Both sides promoted noble ideals (freedom for Epic, security for Apple) and said “shocked”From the fact that their opponent was trying to make money. Sweeney also confirmed that iIn the past, Epic has charged a 60% commission from developers of its existing platform in the 90s: “Many things have changed since then and the fact that Fornite is in other stores such as Microsoft and Nintendo, which also ask for commissions, means that we agree with their system, as opposed to that provided by Apple “.
The opening day of the trial gave an opportunity to understand what they will be the tactics that the two companies will adopt. Epic has primarily focused on its more moderate request: that Apple allow developers to process in-app purchases through their systems, bypassing App Store fees. Apple highlighted the most extreme part: that iOS will have to allow iPhone owners to download apps from third-party stores like the Epic Games Store, with all the related security issues.
Not by chance, Apple’s lawyers have compared the App Store to other closed ecosystems like Sony’s, which does not allow the use of third party stores on PlayStation. And again, Sony takes a percentage of the revenue generated by Fortnite. To answer these arguments, Epic’s lawyers said console makers follow a different business model, as they sell their hardware at a loss and therefore have an incentive to deal with developers. Judge Rogers does not seem to have taken this “defense” well.
Phil Schiller and the reduction of commissions on the App Store
Finally, some details emerged from the testimony of the CEO of Epic on how Apple has evaluatedhypothesis to change the commissions on the App Store. In particular, in 2011 Phil Schiller asked Eddy Cue if it was appropriate to re-evaluate the commissions on apps and in-app purchases: “Are we planning to leave the 70/30 division forever? I believe that such an approach cannot remain unchanged forever“. Schiller has always been a supporter of the 30% commission, but these statements reveal some doubts about their duration over time and the idea of lowering them at a later time.
In fact, Apple already requires only 15% from developers who billed less than $ 1 million on the App Store in the previous year.